Baz Luhrmann’s ‘Elvis’ Not The Complete Picture

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The king of rock ‘n’ roll, Elvis Presley, has had an unparalleled impact on the world. He was a singer and songwriter whose voice enchanted audiences for decades with hits such as “Love Me Tender” or “Suspicious Minds”. To this day, his songs reflect dignity in hard times — a fitting legacy from one who revolutionized our culture through music.

But that’s not the complete picture.

Elvis Presley’s questionable history has already been well known among music critics and historians, so why did so many people gather to honor the late artist and make a biopic?

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Elvis, directed by Baz Luhrmann, follows the musician from his youth in Tupelo, Mississippi, to his surge to popularity in Memphis, Tennessee, and his conquest of Las Vegas, Nevada. It describes Elvis Presley becoming the first rock ‘n’ roll star and changing the world through his music.

For years, innumerable allegations of abuse and sexual predation have been leveled against the musician, not to forget that he frequently copied Black culture to cement his position as the “King” of a genre that was never his. Putting aside the fact that Elvis stole Chuck Berry’s entire attitude, the exploitation of Willie Mae Thornton, the real creator of “Hound Dog,” was particularly vile.

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He paid Mae Thornton money for his cover of the hit record, which has since become one of “history’s most contested and divisive records.” Many people think that reparations are still required, but aside from cultural appropriation, Elvis was one of history’s most problematic performers for a myriad of reasons.

Joel Williamson’s 2014 biography of Elvis Presley recounted a chaotic tour of life that included pedophilia. Presley was alleged to have traveled with a group of three 14-year-old girls. Dixie Locke, one of Elvis’ then-girlfriends, was 15 then and would only dress up as selected by the King of Rock and Roll. Williamson wrote in his book Elvis Presley: A Southern Life. 

Elvis would always have some girl or young woman in his bed—for petting, for companionship, for a sense of comfort and security, for sex, for affirmation of his masculinity, for a complex of reasons that defy complete understanding.
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I find it very interesting that there was no evidence against Michael Jackson either time when he was accused of abusing boys. However, he’s still called a pedophile after his death, whereas Priscilla was only 14 years old when a 32-year-old Elvis “fell in love” with her, and people treat him like God.

Elvis and Me, Priscilla’s book, highlighted how the late singer was a man who yearned after youth. After his separation from Priscilla, he went on to date Ginger Alden, who claimed in her biography, Elvis & Ginger, that he often threatened her with weapons and once openly fired on her for refusing to buy him more yogurt. 

Ginger Alden wrote in her book explaining the incident. 

Although Elvis hadn’t hit me hard, he had done the inconceivable; He had hit me. This was more traumatic emotionally than physically. The dark mood that had transformed Elvis into someone I didn’t recognize reminded me of the incident in Palm Springs over the yogurt. There, too, I’d only been trying to help him. If this was his reaction over yogurt and papaya juice, how could I ever say anything to him about his sleep medication?
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Honoring someone like Elvis Presley is exactly what’s wrong with our society. He was nothing more than an unchecked sexual predator who corrupted music, culture, and lives for his gain.

There are so many taboos in our society that breaking them all at once is hard. But if you’re a straight white male afraid of losing your position as a headliner and the most dominant population on earth, don’t let these few social activists get under your skin! It isn’t always easy keeping up with who had affairs with adolescent girls.

We don’t need biopics to honor such people, profiting off their legacies and reinforcing antiquated notions of masculinity. We don’t need to see him struggle in a Baz Luhrmann movie that strives to be feminist by featuring Priscilla Presley raising her voice in a few scenes.